"Choice For Men" (C4M), also known as "male abortion"
"Choice For Men" (C4M) - overview
"Choice For Men" (C4M or "male abortion") - more details
Commentary on the C4M FAQ
The politics of "Choice For Men" in the UK
An aiming point for the future "Beyond C4M"
Reproductive trends for never-together men & women
"Scenario 1" - what should the law be in this case?
Related topic - Advances in male contraception - overview
Home & weblog
Blog archive & site history
Site map & search

Commentary on the C4M FAQ

Commentary on Frequently Asked Questions About "Choice for Men".

On 2002-07-13 these were at: Frequently Asked Questions about "Choice for Men" (C4M).

An advocate of C4M, Mark Sobolewski, has posted a response to this commentary, in the form of an article in the Google Groups archive, and a page in his web site.

To avoid these problems with C4M, see An aiming point for the future "Beyond C4M".

Question FAQ answer Commentary - UK oriented
What is "Choice for Men"? Choice for Men is a proposal to improve the law so it protects men's right to plan their families.

C4M really addresses the (good) question "how can men have consensual sex, without the disadvantages of current male contraceptives, and without the risk of becoming financially responsible for a child resulting from that sex?"

It doesn't address the other issues arising from being the genetic parent of a child, such as the child wanting to know its parents, diagnosis & therapy for genetic disorders, etc. Its primary focus is on avoiding the child support responsibilities.

Would Choice for Men force women to have abortions?

No.

The woman's options become:

  • have an abortion (which may be hard in the UK), or
  • have the child, and become a deserted lone mother.

Obviously this proposal would put pressure on some pregnant women to have abortions, and would also result in more deserted lone mothers where they don't have abortions. This would be a dreadful dilemma for many pregnant women - who may not have realised just how casually the man considered the relationship to be. Abortion Act 1967.

What exactly is Choice for Men? Choice for Men would give men a recourse, remedy or relief from being tricked or trapped into parenthood, perhaps by allowing them to relinquish their parental rights and responsibilities, like in an adoption, via financial compensation or by forcing an actual adoption.

This reveals the basis of the C4M proposal - the assumption is that conception has occurred. If men can ensure that conception doesn't happen, then they can't be "tricked or trapped into parenthood", except in certain cases (eg. rape, below) that should be dealt with separately.

"Prevention is better than cure". C4M is in urgent need of addressing this fundamental principle of how to make things work better! It would be better to achieve "every child a wanted child".

Some proposals would limit the time during which the choice can be made, make the choice irrevocable,

only apply when men are lied to about birth control or

when boys are statutorially raped.

There would have to be a time limit, in case the woman wanted to have an abortion. In the UK, there isn't legally abortion on demand (although many doctors tend to be liberal in their interpretation of the need to identify a health risk), so she may not be able to have one. Abortion Act 1967.

The subject of being lied to has typically been rejected by "you can't expect the state to intervene in what 2 people say in the bedroom". Some men have suggested some sort of formal contract to show that there was an agreement outside the bedroom. But the child would not be a party to the contract, which reduces its credibility.

Statutory rape of boys must be dealt with separately. Where reproduction is concerned, we don't want to encourage the government to treat men in the same way they treat under-aged boys!

One proposal even allows women to relinquish their parental rights and responsibilities. OK, but this proposal is unclear. It appears likely to fall foul of the above issues.
Choice for Men isn't a medical procedure. Agreed. But it may lead to pressure for a medical procedure.
How many men are tricked or trapped into parenthood?

No one knows the exact number, but we can estimate from the following statistics:

  • Preliminary data indicates that 33% of U.S. births may be unintended according to fathers.
  • Paternities are established in U.S. courts at the rate of one or two per minute.

A survey in the UK (by women's magazine That's Life!) suggested that: "Nearly one in four British women would try to conceive without their partner's consent if they wanted a baby".

There is a steady trickle of cases (including statutory rape) where mothers claim child support from men who never wanted the child and thought precautions were being taken.

Isn't Choice for Men simply a way for men to get out of paying child support?

No, it's more. Choice for Men is about fairness and family planning.

"Child support" is behind most proposals on this topic - else why bother?

A problem is that "fairness" has never been agreed where human reproduction is concerned. Human reproduction is asymmetrical, so there is no logical definition of fairness. It is much better for men to identify what they want than to engage in a futile pursuit of the undefinable.

If men can ensure that conception doesn't happen, this would solve the "family planning" requirement. They would have to plan to use these contraceptives, but that is what "family planning" for men surely involves.

Can't men avoid paying child support by just using condoms? Proponents of legalizing choice for men generally support contraception, but keep in mind that condoms are unreliable. Condoms have a 16% annual failure rate. After just four years you can bet on having an accidental pregnancy and after 20 years of using condoms, the chances are that a man will most likely experience not one, not two, but three accidental pregnancies!

Current male contraceptives are totally inadequate to achieve the perfectly reasonable objective of C4M: "how can men have consensual sex without the risk of becoming financially responsible for a child resulting from that sex?" This applies to vasectomies as well as condoms.

The next generation of male contraceptives should be a lot better for this purpose. They will enable men to control their own fertility.

Can't men avoid paying child support by not consenting to sex? Many people are surprised to learn that men can't legally avoid parenthood by not consenting to sex. It's true! Here's a quote from a court case in Kansas:

"The issue of consent to sexual activity under the criminal statutes is irrelevant in a civil action to determine paternity and for support of a minor child born of such activity."

Similar cases have happened in other states.

Rape of men, especially statutory rape of boys, must be dealt with separately. Where reproduction is concerned, we don't want to encourage the government to treat men in the same way they treat under-aged boys!

This is true for both men & women - the laws for rape & for consensual sex must not be mixed up. Statutory rape is typically easy to separate out, because the dates (of "conception" and of "coming of age") should be known. They don't need a general application of C4M to resolve them.

Aren't all children entitled to support from both parents? No. A common exception is single parent adoptions, which are fully legal and looked upon favorably by the various social service agencies.

Unfortunately this is true, but "two wrongs don't make a right".

It would be better to cure the existing problem than to use it as a precedent for a new problem.

Wouldn't Choice for Men impoverish children? While some people might worry that children raised by single mothers may be impoverished, keep in mind that adoption and donating sperm are already legal for single parents and looked upon favorably by various social service agencies.

Unfortunately this is true, but "two wrongs don't make a right".

It would be better to cure the existing problem than to use it as a precedent for a new problem.

Even if the mother can't afford to keep the child out of poverty, it was her decision to keep the child and she should be responsible for it.

Perhaps a billion people in the world live in abject poverty. Should exactly the same attitude be applied to all of them? A humane world shouldn't take such an attitude to a billion people. And it shouldn't take this attitude to people in "the West" either.

This takes a very casual attitude towards the emotional bond that a mother can feel towards the child. (When the same casual attitude is taken towards the emotional bond that a father can feel towards the child, in a family court decision, men's/father's groups rightly object!)

Furthermore, a fundamental right such as a man's procreational autonomy may not be infringed upon by the state to merely save money.

There is no such fundamental right - it has simply been postulated for this purpose. See:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations)
Convention on the Rights of the Child (United Nations)
European Convention on Human Rights (Council of Europe)

Here is a discussion of "Rights to Reproduce", which provides a good analysis of what "rights" are and are not.

Typical rights quoted here are about having families. No sources identify rights to have sex without risking consequences. There are no such rights. "Prevention is better than cure".

Page last updated: 7 August, 2005 © Copyright Barry Pearson 2003